Ringo Starr is an inspiration.
Serene and joyful at age 80, Starr is giving a series of media interviews keyed to the release Friday of his five-track album "Zoom In."
Starr recorded the album during the pandemic via zoom and at his home studio, where several of his musical friends wore masks as they recorded. His record, and his related interviews in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and USA Today to New York magazine, shine a light of hope.
As a member of the Beatles, Starr was overshadowed by the songwriting and musical brilliance of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, as well as George Harrison. Starr mainly played drums, with instinctive flair more than technical precision.
Yet his steady rhythms laid the foundation for the band's music, and his persona was an essential ingredient of the band's mystique. Starr's vocal performance on "A Little Help From My Friends" is among the band's defining moments. His Chaplinesque silent sequence at the end of "Hard Days Night" is a hallmark of 1960s cinema.
But few could have imagined his enduring and monumental musical career when the Beatles broke up in 1970. Like McCartney, he's recorded a number of hit records and enjoyed world-wide popularity.
After achieving sobriety, Starr formed his All-Starrs band in 1989, leading the group and its rotating cast of superstar musicians to a series of recordings and tours. He's displayed songwriting and singing talent little tapped during the Beatles years.
Because of the pandemic, Starr had to cancel an All-Starrs tour scheduled for last summer. But Starr's told several interviewers that he overcame that disappointment by recording new music, leading to the "Zoom In" Ep. He's joined on the record by luminaries such as Dave Grohl, McCartney, and his brother-in-law, the Eagles' Joe Walsh.
In the joyful interviews, Starr says that although he's rarely left his house during the pandemic, he's kept his spirits high by producing artwork and doing daily exercise as well as creating music. He also subscribes to a healthy diet: blueberries and broccoli the mainstays.
He's also published a photo book, "Ringo Rocks: 30 years of the All-Starrs." Over the years, the band's changing lineup has included legendary members of other groups, such as the Band's late Levon Helm and Rich Danko.
Starr's post-Beatles solo career has lasted longer than the life of Lennon, assassinated in 1980, tragically cutting short a brilliant solo career. Starr says he often thinks about Lennon, and Harrison, who died of cancer 20 years ago.
"All you need is love," the Beatles sang long ago. Starr lives by those words every day.